The Random House Book of Vegetables

Roger Philips, Author, Roger Phillips, Author, Martyn E. Rix, With Random House (NY) $25 (270p) ISBN 978-0-679-75024-6
If a gardener needs a single visual guide to the vegetable kingdom, this may be the one. Generously illustrated with color photographs that regard both the larger landscape and the root tendrils on a turnip with a serious eye, the book documents more than 650 types of vegetable, mainly those that can be grown in North America and northern Europe, but also takes stock of Asian specialties currently in demand. Search out parsnips, for example, and you'll find the pale, soggy-looking specimens of five different kinds lined up, as if for mug shots; a glimpse of parsnips au naturel --in the ground, not the studio--is also on hand, as is a brief note on the parsnip's history and its cultivational needs. Extensive, equally explicit spreads on more popular vegetables abound, whether the culprit is spinach or the humble broad bean (shown both with pods zipped shut and split open, seeds intact inside). Though not mainly a source of gardener's tips, the book offers simple instructions to the grower, as well as fodder for anyone curious to know more about the first European sighting of potatoes (1537) or the multitudes of possible potatoes (``Duke of York''; ``Epicure''; ``Mona Lisa''). (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
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